"Nemo," "Little Mermaid" swim back to big screen in 3D

LOS ANGELES Tue Oct 4, 2011 5:20pm EDT

The characters in the new animated film from the Walt Disney Company ''The Lion King'' are shown in this photograph. REUTERS

The characters in the new animated film from the Walt Disney Company ''The Lion King'' are shown in this photograph.

Credit: Reuters

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Hot on the heels of the box office success of "The Lion King 3D," Disney and Pixar are reviving four of their classic animated films in 3D versions for movie theaters.

Banking on the success of "The Lion King 3D," which is set to cross the $80 million U.S. box office threshold Tuesday, the movie studio said it would release a 3D version of 1991 fairytale "Beauty and the Beast" in January 2012 for a limited run in movie theaters.

It will be followed by Pixar's sea-adventure "Finding Nemo" in September 2012, "Monsters, Inc." in January 2013 and the classic 1989 Disney romance "The Little Mermaid" in September 2013.

"Great stories and great characters are timeless, and at Disney we're fortunate to have a treasure trove of both," said Alan Bergman, president, The Walt Disney Studios.

"We're thrilled to give audiences of all ages the chance to experience these beloved tales in an exciting new way with 3D - and in the case of younger generations, for the first time on the big screen," Bergman said in a statement.

Since 1994, "The Lion King" has earned more than $880 million worldwide, and with recent sales from "The Lion King 3D," the beloved tale of the African animal kingdom has surpassed the $1 billion threshold at the global box office.

Disney's "Beauty and the Beast" and "The Little Mermaid" have so far earned $380 million and $228 million worldwide respectively.

Pixar's 2001 hit "Monsters, Inc." made $526 million worldwide and the 2003 Oscar-winning film "Finding Nemo" made more than $867 million, earning the title of the fifth worldwide highest-grossing animated film.

(Reporting by Piya Sinha-Roy; Editing by Jill Serjeant)

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